The main character of the book is a 16-year old student named Holden Caulfield.
The story begins when he just got kicked out of Pencey Prep, a boarding school near New York, where he lives. He's been going to a lot of them ever since he got out of primary school and as a result of that, he feels a bit insecure about himself and tries to prove himself by smoking a lot of cigarettes and drinking a lot of alcohol.
The story is written in a chronological order and has a time span of about one week. In those weeks he travels through New York and tries to get away from the daily rush, without letting his parents know that he's been kicked out. He visits a hotel filled with pimps and whores, goes to bars to get a drink and tries to have a good time by himself, but instead he feels depressed and lonely.
He finally decides to take action and wants to get in touch with his younger sister Phoebe, just to talk to her and to see how she 's been, for he hasn't seen her for a long time because Pencey Prep is a campus.
He goes home in the night, taking the chance that his parents might notice him. By sneaking through the house, he eventually gets to Phoebe and wakes her up. She tells him that their parents have gone outdoors but at that moment, they came home earlier than they'd expected so he hides in Phoebes closet when they came in, surprised why phoebe was still up.
She manages to get rid of them and after the parents left the room, he tells Phoebe to meet him the next day in a park because he wants to leave New York and head west.
The next day he was at the park, wondering why it took Phoebe so long, but he found out soon: Phoebe dragged a large suitcase behind her and said that she wanted to go with him. Holden refused and still wanted to go alone, but Phoebe insisted, saying that she didn't want to lose contact with him.
Finally he makes up his mind and decides to stay with her in New York, and to tell his parents the whole story.
It occurred to me that the use of language was quite unusual for the time it was written in (1945). The main character swears a lot.(goddam this, damn that….)
"You damn near puked if you were there."
"If I was a piano player I'd play in the goddam closet."
He also ends a lot of sentences with '….. and all'
"Now and then you just saw a man and a girl crossing a street, with their arms around each other 's waists and all, or a bunch of hoodlum-looking guys and their dates, all of them laughing like hyenas at something you could bet wasn't funny."
I think that I liked the book so much because of that, it's like he tells you a story; He sometimes begins a sentence with 'If you want to know the truth,…..' and then he goes on telling you what happened, assuming that you wanted him to tell you.
The book actually begins with "if you really want to hear about it…."
Because of that writing style, you get more involved in a way… some words aren't spelled correctly, but are written down in the way they are said: 'sunuvabitch' 'wuddayacallit'. That makes it more fun to read, it humours you.
Holden Caulfield is very cynical and his world consists of people that are either sympathetic or phoney. He exactly knows how the world is made up. But he isn't all to much of a sober type, he is very in touch with his emotions; some things can drive him crazy, and other things can humour him.
He often uses the words 'that kills me' or 'they kill me' to express the way he feels, to say that he finds something very funny or either very stupid.
"Imagine about giving somebody a feel and telling them about a guy that committed suicide at the same time! They killed me"
This book concentrates more on dialog than describing the environment; you might think that because of that, there's a lack of atmosphere, but instead this book gives you a good sense of the atmosphere without words that directly describe the mood in a certain situation. You feel the atmosphere by the words that are said.
I think that this is without a doubt the most entertaining book I have ever read!
It has a great deal of humour and it's very well written, in a language that perfectly fits with the theme of the book (The feelings and the environment of a 16-year-old student in a post-war period).
In the end of the book you get the feeling that you perfectly understand what kind of person Holden Caulfield really is, although he frequently says that he's crazy and he wouldn't be surprised if you don't understand him.
"I'm crazy, I swear to God I am"
He describes his sister Phoebe as a really cute and open kid, she loves to roller-skate, dance and write books that she doesn't finish. And always when he talks about her, he adds " I swear to God you'd have liked her" or "I wish you would have been there". And when the story ends you're almost feeling sorry that you don't know her at all, that she's just a fictional character, just like Holden Caulfield.
"She writes books all the time. Only, she doesn't finish them. They're all about some kid named Hazel Weatherfield - only Phoebe spells it Hazle.
Old Hazel Weatherfield is a girl detective. She's supposed to be an orphan, but her old man keeps showing up.
Her old man's always a tall attractive gentleman about 20 years of age. That kills me. Old Phoebe. I swear to God you'd like her."
I guess that I not only liked the book so much because of its style but also because I can identify myself with Holden Caulfield so well. He has almost the same view about the world as me, and the things that he really hates or things that drive him crazy, really irritate me as well.
"You should've heard the crowd, though, when he was finished. You would've puked. They were exactly the same morons that laugh like hyenas at the movies at stuff that isn't funny. I swear to God, if I were a piano player or an actor or something and all those dopes thought I was terrific, I'd hate it. I wouldn't even want them to clap for me. People always clap for the wrong things."
This quote could just as well be said by me, I couldn't agree more!
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